On Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, the 2020 State of Transit went virtual. Hosted by VIA Metropolitan Transit and the San Antonio Mobility Coalition (SAMCo), this year’s streaming event focused on VIA’s COVID-19 response and VIA’s plan to keep San Antonio moving, safely and affordably.
VIA President/CEO Jeffrey C. Arndt and VIA Board Chair Hope Andrade discussed VIA’s work to maintain essential service and highlighted efforts to support workforce recovery, and secure long-term funding for transit in San Antonio.
They explained how VIA is the most under-funded major transit agency in the State of Texas, behind Houston, Dallas, and Austin. VIA’s per capita funding is only $98 compared with Dallas at $249, Austin at $205, and Houston at $161.
The typical VIA rider is part of the local workforce and utilizes VIA five to seven days a week, with 67 percent below a household income of less than $25,000 per year. Most cannot work from home and 58 percent have no motor vehicle in their household. This is especially significant because it reinforces the vital service VIA offers to help meet our community’s need to make connections to jobs, schools, and other essential destinations on which their family’s livelihood depends.
VIA introduced a new initiative, “Keep San Antonio Moving,” which includes seeking the community’s input on their priorities for the future of transit through online surveys and tele-town hall meetings.
San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg and Bexar County Commissioners Court Judge Nelson Wolff also participated in the virtual State of Transit moderated by Jonathan Gurwitz, chairman of the San Antonio Mobility Coalition (SAMCo), and they expressed their support for the agency and its need to secure long-term funding. The City is planning to seek voter approval in November to collect a 1/8th cent sales tax revenue for four years to help cover post-COVID-19 workforce development and economic recovery efforts. Following the four years, the 1/8th cent sales tax revenue would go to VIA if approved by voters in November. That would mean approximately $38.5 million per year. Currently, only half of a one cent sales tax, made available by the Texas State Legislature to support transit, is being used by VIA to fund operations.
The “State of Transit” is part of SAMCo’s transportation leadership series, held in partnership with VIA and event sponsors. SAMCo is a non-profit corporation that advocates for highway, transit, and freight rail funding for the greater San Antonio region. For more than 40 years, VIA has kept San Antonio moving. As we’ve grown and changed with the region, we’ve worked closely with our community to develop plans for a more mobile future.